Potter & Potter Auctions' May 19 Sale Offers Gambling Memorabilia and Books
Chicago — Potter and Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this upcoming sale to be held on Saturday, May 19th, 2018 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. All lots are on display and available for public preview on Wednesday, May 16th, through Friday, May 18th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in their facility.
This sale's astonishing selection of gaming and cheating related publications reflects Potter and Potter's well-deserved reputation for global leadership in gambling memorabilia. Of special note are 70+ outstanding lots of books on poker on offer.
The top lot in this sale is #151, Alfred Trumble's Faro Exposed; or The Gambler and his Prey. Being a Complete Explanation of the Famous Game, its Origin and Development, and how its Skins are Worked. Estimated at $20,000-30,000, this 1882 publication is the rarest of all books dealing with the subject of advantage play. It provides a candid explanation of the origin, nature, rules, and history of Faro, arguably the most popular card game of the Old West. Its text and visually stunning wood-engraved plates detail the methods (both mechanical and sleight-of-hand) by which unsuspecting “suckers” and their money could be parted.
And just how extraordinary is this book? The copy deposited in the Library of Congress was destroyed in the process of converting the text to microfilm, and in the intervening years, only two other examples of the text have been located in institutions, one of which is incomplete. This example is the only copy known to be in private hands.
Lot #162, a collection of seven late 19th century poker magazines, should draw attention from poker enthusiasts worldwide. Estimated at $25,000-35,000, this group includes all six Poker Chips Magazines ever published from June to November, 1896 and the July, 1897 issue of The White Elephant, its successor periodical. All were published by Frank Tousey, famous for chapbooks and street literature, and featured “stories of the great American game.” This is first complete file of Poker Chips to come to auction, and is one of but a handful extant.
And last but not least, lot #126, F.R. Ritter's Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker, is the real-deal. Estimated at $6,000-8,000, this book from 1905 features the first photograph of a Jacob's Ladder-style holdout ever printed, Ritter’s 20 rules for playing poker, as well as dozens of images of cards marked with "blockout" work.
Will & Finck was a well-known San Francisco firm that began manufacturing and selling cutlery in 1864, but grew its offering to include Faro equipment in 1871. The company survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and remained in business through the early 1930's. Professional gamblers the world over spoke of the firm in almost reverent terms and they treasured their Will & Finck card holdouts and gaffed dealing boxes.
Will & Finck's cheating devices, game accessories, and company ephemera are of enormous interest to gambling collectors today. Lot #232, a c. 1880 hand carved, highly detailed and hand colored rosewood case-keeper in suit of clubs with ivory beads, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This rarity features an unusual maker’s cartouche showing an arm and gold scale. Lot #249, a c. 1880 Jacob's Ladder style brass sleeve holdout mounted on a porcelain display hand, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. Will & Finck holdouts were reportedly favored by professional sharpers due to their compact construction, size and smooth operation. Lot #262, a marked, c. 1880 ivory handled brass card trimmer in its original felt lined, wooden packing crate, is estimated at $3,000-4,000. This small sized version is quite rare and was most likely used by a Faro dealer who traveled from town to town. And lot #207, a Will & Finck gambling catalog from 1894 in its original mailing envelope, is estimated at $2,500-3,500. This lot also includes related company ephemera like receipts, inserts, and letters. This is the only known original Will & Finck gambling supply catalog in private hands.
Game accessories and devices are key categories in this sale, with about 100 lots of case keepers, dealing boxes, markers, apparatus, and other items on offer. Lot #496, a beautiful, hand painted c. 1890 Diana layout, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. This very rare example is one of only a handful known. The game of Diana had a short lifespan, because of the very long odds against the player. Lot #495, a c. 1890 jumbo gambling wheel, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This fantastically decorated wheel is decorated with a dizzying array of reverse glass painted horseheads, American flags, horseshoes, birds, and women’s heads. The wheel was reportedly meant for use used in a casino in Havasu, AZ but the establishment was never opened, so the wheel was later purchased out of storage. And lot #542, a c. 1890 American string game, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This unique, previously unknown device is made from 52 playing cards attached to spring loaded wooden blocks; a string is attached to each block. It's not known how prizes were awarded, but Potter & Potter experts surmise that a shelf at the back of the operator’s booth held the prizes each card represented.
This sale's selection of cards, chips, and dice is a Royal Flush. These smaller scaled items are enormously collectible, and can be displayed in tight spaces. Lot #352, a c. 1868 double deck of boxed, beautifully illustrated French Jacquemin Gringonneur playing cards is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Lot #300, a boxed deck of playing cards printed for the 1888 American presidential race between Cleveland and Harrison, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. Lot #386, a c. 1880 American “One Hundred” scrimshawed ivory poker chip is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This jackpot sized rarity does not appear in Seymour's Antique Gambling Chips reference books. Lot #404, a trio of scrimshawed ivory poker chips with a dog on one side and a chicken on verso is estimated at $800-1,200. And luck be a lady with lot #434, three c. 1890 ivory ball dice, estimated at $1,200-2,000.
This sale comes full circle with fantastic assortments of collectibles, advertisements, and other coin-op rarities. Lot #498, a c. 1930 scarce gaffed “Bee Hive” game in its original case is estimated at $2,000-4,000. This item was advertised as a great device to run with jewelry at fairs, picnics, or other places. It was deemed a great machine for 10 cent play that never failed to make big money. And lot #539, an original, working, c. 1894 U.S. Novelty Co. 5 Cent clockwork trade stimulator with a playing card dial is estimated at $3,000-5,000.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "We conduct a specialty gambling auction every year, and this is - without a doubt - our finest offering to date. This sale features exceptional items from Bob Rosenberger's lifetime collection. Bob is one of the acknowledged authorities on the subject of gambling history. He had an amazing eye for gambling memorabilia and crossover categories including poker chips, the old west, cheating, magic, gambling, poker, coin-op, California history, knife making, and vintage playing cards. Bob's collection is rich in material related to the famed firm of Will & Finck of San Francisco. To offer the only Will & Finck catalog in private hands is a real thrill - nearly as much as the opportunity to sell the only copy of the legendary book Faro Exposed, also the only copy in private hands."
Potter and Potter, founded in 2007, is a Chicago area auction house specializing in paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, posters, fine prints, vintage toys, and magicana - antiques and collectibles related to magic and magicians. For more information on this sale and Potter & Potter Auctions, please see www.potterauctions.com. If you can't make the auction in person, bids for these extraordinary offerings can be placed directly on the company's website, by phone by arrangement, or via an absentee bid form, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Image: Lot 151: Faro Exposed; or The Gambler and his Prey. Being a Complete Explanation of the Famous Game, its Origin and Development, and how its Skins are Worked. Estimate $20,000-30,000. Courtesy of Potter & Potter